In Alberta, the opposition scores direct hits using Access to Information laws

Former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel

There are four important by-elections underway right now in Alberta. The vote is on Monday. The Premier, the Health Minister, and the Education Minister have their names on ballots in three of the four ridings. Jim Prentice, Stephen Mandel (above, pictured in 2006), and Gordon Dirks, of course, are all members of the longest-ruling-party in Canadian history, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives.

The PCs, though, are in trouble mostly because a lot of Albertans seem disgusted with a sense of entitlement that has grown around the party. Using government aircraft to fly family and friends around. A former premier’s plan to build a multi-million dollar “sky palace” apartment for herself in Edmonton. And so on.

The opposition Wildrose Party are taking full advantage of this “target-rich” environment with some well-timed direct hits using information it received using access-to-information laws. It scored again Wednesday, unveiling the fact that Mandel (above), running for the PCs in Edmonton-Whitemud, expenses $69,000 worth of Edmonton Oilers tickets to taxpayers when he was the mayor of Edmonton. Continue reading In Alberta, the opposition scores direct hits using Access to Information laws

The numbers on the federal Access to Information Act (2012)


Some data and numbers for the federal government’s performance under the Access to Information Act (ATI).  This data may have been around for a while but I just stumbled across it today and think a few bits to be worthwhile.

This data, published by the government, is for the fiscal year 2011-2012 which would have ended on March 31, 2012. The most recent complete fiscal year for the government is the one that just ended a few weeks ago on March 31, 2013 but I suspect it will be a while before the books are closed on that year. So the data on FY2012 is, so far as I know, the most recent complete year snapshot.

Requests under the Access to Information Act Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 43,194
Outstanding from previous reporting period 8,138
Total 51,332
Closed during reporting period 43,664
Carried over to next reporting period 7,668

Who made all these requests? Continue reading The numbers on the federal Access to Information Act (2012)

McGill University seeks to ban its own student journos from filing ATI requests on it

A disturbing piece in the McGill Daily …

In December, McGill filed a motion with the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec against 14 McGill students, seeking to disregard several Access to Information (ATI) requests.

In the conclusion of the motion, McGill demands the authority to “disregard future requests […] submitted by the respondents or students of McGill or student journalists of The McGill Daily and the Link (Concordia University) or by persons associated to McGilliLeaked or by persons that could reasonably be linked to such requestors,” if those requests meet one of five vague characteristics.

One of those characteristics includes being “overly broad.” Another is if the request “is associated to one or more categories of documents and information published on McGilliLeaked, a website that compiles the results of ATI requests.

Some of the categories on McGilliLeaked include “administrative,” “contracts,” “construction,” “legal,” “expenses,” and years, such as “2010,” and “2011.”

via The McGill Daily » Keeping information under wraps.

The McGill University media relations office, having seen this article, provided me this morning with the 20-page motion it has filed in support of is request to disregard these and future ATI requests.:

McGill motion to block student journos from making ATI request by David Akin

Harper government "most transparent" in history. NOT!

“Our Government is the most transparent government in Canadian history. There has never been a time when Canadians have had as much access to government information.”

Treasury Board President Tony Clement, Dec. 19, 2012

 While I have personally encouraged Minister Clement about Open Government/Open Data initiatives (and found him to be personally receptive to doing what he can to implement those initiatives), it is demonstrably false for him that he is part of the most transparent government in Canada history.  Continue reading Harper government "most transparent" in history. NOT!

Waiting for years: Canada's oh-so-broken access to information system

Canada’s Access to Information (ATI) system was broke long before Stephen Harper became prime minister in 2006 but the Conservatives, like the Liberals before them, have failed to fix the system that gives Canadians the right of access to records the government holds, creates, and collects on all our behalf. [For more on our broken ATI system, see “30 Years of ATI: And It’s Getting Worse”]

Indeed, despite promising to fix the ATI system in its 2006 campaign, the Conservatives have made it worse. Great example? Over at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, John Baird as much thumbed his nose at the Information Commissioner of Canada — an officer of Parliament, no less — when she told him earlier this year, in response to a complaint that I had made, that the steps his bureaucrats were taking to prevent the release of documents was flat out wrong, likely against the law, and that he ought to tell his bureaucrats to change their ways. [See: “Foreign Affairs Minister Ignores Information Commissioner’s Recommendations”]

Continue reading Waiting for years: Canada's oh-so-broken access to information system

Common sense? From bureaucrats?

You may have seen posts here about my “win”, such as it is, with the Information Commissioner when it comes to DFAIT. Here’s the resulting column that went across our chain today …

Only in the odd, upside-down, un-reality world in which government bureaucrats live could the idea flourish that they are doing a better job by not doing their job at all. Continue reading Common sense? From bureaucrats?

Foreign Affairs Minister ignores Information Commissioner's recommendations

Hot off the presses: A letter from the Information Commissioner of Canada, Suzanne Legault, informing me that she agrees with me on a complaint I made three years ago about the way the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was handling Access to Information (ATI) requests to that department. Read the letter below. Bottom line: I won but Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is ignoring Legault’s recommendations. Continue reading Foreign Affairs Minister ignores Information Commissioner's recommendations

DFAIT's "smoking gun" memo to block ATI requests

Among Parliamentary Press Gallery journalists (and many others), the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is notorious for being one of the worst — if not the worst — government department when it comes to handling requests for records made under the federal Access to Information Act. DFAIT can take forever to process requests and, even then, will fight a requester tooth-and-nail to withhold information. Continue reading DFAIT's "smoking gun" memo to block ATI requests

CBC blew more than $70,000 for a Strombo party

I’m with Wells when it comes to Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s hotel bill to attend an important security conference in Munich.

Nonetheless, despite the reasonable argument put forward by M. Wells, there has been much hyperventilating from the opposition (and from several news organizations) about this hotel bill.

Well, for those who were hyperventilating over Mackay’s $3,000 hotel bill, you’re gonna love this: CBC spent more than $72,000 to throw a B-list party for George Stroumboulopoulos to promote the late-night talk show he hosts on CBC. Continue reading CBC blew more than $70,000 for a Strombo party